THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2005

 
John Terry
TRAIN SPOTTING
 

Centre Court darling, Piccarina Gonzales,
still riding high on substances that screwed-
up her third Wimbledon season
and trailing paparazzi like a scarf,

found her stoned self on a railway bridge
where drunken laughter slipstreamed into long
tadpoles of colour, as tough tee-shirts hurled
stolen tins of paint at inter-city trains.

Her first missile, a paint-soaked tennis ball,
skittered and slid across a carriage
doing more than eighty miles an hour.
a wild, amateurish teardrop streaking

across windows and neat livery.
She hit the next express from the trackside –
a fierce forehand from her competition-
strung, hyper-carbon, titanium racquet.

It took six trains to perfect her technique,
to find the critical angle that left
a perfect spot printed on high-speed sides –
the ball rebounding from its brief impact

to hiss a wicked path through rough grass,
scything eager paparazzi to their knees.
The press screamed that Piccarina Gonzales
had just invented the perfect off-court sport –

and Sky agreed prime-time fees to screen
her choreographed tennis teams, strung out
beside miles of track, printing Rolling Stones
lyrics in dot-matrix along both sides

of a speeding Virgin. The tough tee-shirts,
scorning racquet skills, abandoned the bridge
and went back to torching stolen cars – leaving
train spotters space to spot unspotted trains

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